‘Late Nights & Heartbreak’ from the LP of the same name by Hannah Williams And The Affirmations, is a soulful and stirring track, most recently sampled by Jay-Z on the title track of his most recent album, ‘4:44’.
‘Late Nights & Heartbreak’ was released in 2016 by Bristol R&B band, Hannah Williams And The Affirmations, and released on the small independent label, Record Kicks. The title track was discovered by producer No I.D., who sent it to Jay-Z. Williams’ deliciously languid vocals prompted a sleepless but ultimately artistically fruitful night for Jay-Z: a night of heartfelt inward looking and passionate confession. Jay-Z did the unthinkable and picked up the phone, and called Hannah personally – bypassing the traditional route of management and agents – and talked artist to artist about sampling the track.
The track in question however is just a small taste of what Hannah Williams And The Affirmations are capable of. With twelve further songs on their album with as much intensity and strength and the title track there’s no reason why this incredible band shouldn’t become famous around the world. With one of the most visionary producers in the UK, at the helm, Malcolm Catto, a man known for getting the most out of idiosyncratic and uncompromising acts, the band has certainly put their very best into this album. Catto has worked with jazz legends Yussef Kamaal and Mulatu Astatke, among many many others, and here he has taken the nine members of the Affirmations and their funk and soul act and the crisply perfect vocals of Hannah Williams, and translated their energy and heart into an exquisite album.
Williams, whose father was a musically gifted minister, and whose mother let her join the church choir aged only 6, could read music before she could properly read words. She’s also a powerful screen presence, dominating the video for ‘Late Nights & Heartbreak’. Directed by Nick Donnelly, it’s a story of love, inadequacy, and the search for artistic perfection. Williams brings the song to life onscreen just as she does in the studio, with her voice a virtual force of nature, together with the band’s superb musicianship.